The Los Angeles Lakers fought tooth-and-nail with the defending NBA Champions, and while they ultimately lost 127-123 in overtime to the Golden State Warriors, head coach Luke Walton was still proud of his young team.
“I love the way out guys competed defensively. We set a challenge to be aggressive but be smart. We wanted high hands. The Warriors are struggling with turnovers so far this year, so we wanted to use that to our advantage,” Walton said.
“Get some stops and get out and run. When they set that half-court defense gets set, they’re doing that switching, and they’ve got Draymond and Andre, it’s tough to score.”
The Lakers have the eighth-best defensive efficiency in the NBA, but the Warriors are on a whole other level than the rest of the league offensively, scoring 113.6 points per 100 possessions.
Still, the Lakers’ game plan worked, at least for stretches of the game. They held the Warriors to 45.8 percent shooting overall and just 27.3 percent from three in the first half. But eventually, Golden State’s nearly unstoppable offense kicked into gear in the second half and overtime.
That type of reversal of fortune is almost inevitable against a team as talented as the Warriors, and didn’t leave Walton any less thrilled with his team’s execution.
“We set a challenge to our players, and I thought they did a great job of responding to that,” he said. “A couple little mistakes here and there, communication errors, switching, cost us when we had a lead down the stretch, but overall really happy with the way they came out and battled tonight.”
The fact that the Lakers were able to take a team as talented and deep as the Warriors to overtime is still a huge sign of progress for the young roster. Although it may feel like rhetoric at this point, Walton is correct in looking at silver linings from the loss.
Heading into the matchup, he said the focus was on how the Lakers would play and compete, not that the game was viewed as a measuring stick in terms of a win or loss.